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CULTURE

Chalamet, Styles, Armas: next-gen stars to light up Venice film festival

A new generation of stars steps into the spotlight when the Venice Film Festival kicks off on Wednesday.

Timothee Chalamet
US-French actor Timothee Chalamet attends the 94th Oscars in Hollywood in March 2022. His latest film "Bones and All", billed as a cannibal romance, will premiere in Venice. ANGELA WEISS / AFP

Ninety years since its first edition, the world’s longest-running film event also boasts a raft of award-winning directors in its line-up this year.

Perhaps the most anticipated premiere will be for Monroe biopic “Blonde”, a dark retelling of the icon’s tragic life.

Its Australian director Andrew Dominik has, with typical modesty, declared it “a masterpiece” and it threatens to propel Armas from rising star to fully fledged A-lister.

Meanwhile, the army of Chalamet fans are ravenous for “Bones and All”, reuniting him with “Call Me By Your Name” director Luca Guadagnino for what is billed as a “cannibal romance”.

And the internet can barely contain itself over the premiere of “Don’t Worry Darling”, starring Styles — one of the biggest-selling musicians in the world — alongside Florence Pugh in a thriller about an isolated 1950 community.

Amid a wave of rumours about its sex scenes and a supposed rivalry between Pugh and director Olivia Wilde (also Styles’ girlfriend), it is not yet known whether the singer will appear in Venice.

Returning winners

The festival, which runs until September 10, is well-timed to kick-start Oscar campaigns, and Hollywood has increasingly used Venice to launch prestige productions such as “A Star is Born”, “La La Land” and “Nomadland”.

This year sees the return of director Darren Aronofsky, who won the top Golden Lion prize in Venice in 2008 for “The Wrestler” and launched his Oscar-winning “Black Swan” at Venice.

His new film “The Whale” stars Brendan Fraser, who has been largely absent from the screen since his heyday in films like “The Mummy” two decades ago, but is picking up a lot of early hype for his transformation into a morbidly obese man trying to reconnect with his daughter.

Another Venice regular, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, is back in his native Mexico for family tale “Bardo” after two US hits — “Birdman” (which won the Golden Lion and best film Oscar) and “The Revenant”, which snagged a
long-awaited Oscar for Leonardo DiCaprio.

Venice has a key advantage over its main rival, Cannes, since the French festival is partly run by cinema owners who refuse films from streaming services.

“Blonde”, “The Whale” and “Bardo” are all Netflix movies — as is opening film “White Noise” starring Adam Driver and directed by indie favourite Noah Baumbach.

From Iran to Ireland

Hollywood and Western Europe dominate the selection of 23 films competing for the hearts of a jury led by US actress Julianne Moore.

One notable exception is Iran’s award-winning filmmaker Jafar Panahi, whose “No Bears” is premiering barely a month after he was imprisoned amid a crackdown on dissident directors.

Also bound to stir political controversy is a new documentary from Laura Poitras, who follows her films about whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Julian Assange with “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” about the family pharma group behind the US opioid epidemic.

Other stars expected to grace the Lido island are Cate Blanchett, playing a music conductor in “Tar” and Hugh Jackman in domestic drama “The Son”.

Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson reunite with writer-director Martin McDonagh following their much-loved 2008 crime caper “In Bruges”.

They are in their native Ireland for “The Banshees of Inisherin”, hoping to repeat McDonagh’s success with “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”, which won the screenplay award in Venice five years ago.

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CRIME

Accused forger of Old Master paintings wanted in France arrested in Italy

A well-known art collector sought by French authorities for allegedly operating a sophisticated forgery network for decades turned himself in to Italian police on Friday, his lawyers said.

Accused forger of Old Master paintings wanted in France arrested in Italy

Giuliano Ruffini, 77, is accused of cheating museums, auction houses and individuals for decades with dozens of forgeries of old masters.

He turned himself in to police at Castelnovo ne’ Monti, a town in the Reggio Emilia region of central Italy, his lawyer Paul Le Fevre said in a statement.

Italian news reports said Ruffini, who lived nearby, was subsequently arrested by police.

Ruffini’s arrest comes after years of judicial efforts to extradite him back to France, following an investigation begun in 2014 and the issuance of a European arrest warrant five years later.

A Milan appeals court authorised Ruffini’s extradition to France two years ago to face charges of fraud and counterfeiting, but it was put on hold until a parallel procedure for tax evasion in Italy was complete.

Ruffini was acquitted in May of those tax evasion charges.

Well-known in the art world, Ruffini sold dozens of paintings since the 1990s by such masters as Parmigianino and El Greco to some of Europe’s most prestigious museums, including the Louvre, often through intermediaries.

His fakes also attracted wealthy buyers, such as the Prince of Liechtenstein, who bought a forged Lucas Cranach the Elder painting of Venus for seven million euros ($7.24 million).

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